Review

Expanding the original version of Can's Limited Edition release to a full double-LP/single-CD set, Unlimited Edition is very much a dog's breakfast -- albeit a highly entertaining one -- of previously unreleased performances. Damo Suzuki and Malcolm Mooney take the spotlight on some songs, while on others the key foursome go at it in their usual way. A number of songs are mere snippets, like the vaguely tribal-sounding "Blue Bag," while one tune, the 20-minute "Cutaway," from 1969, is a sprawling pastiche of oddities. (Keep an ear out for the very formal request to keep modulations in frequency with other bandmembers!) Five cuts are listed as part of the band's continuing Ethnological Forgery Series, on which they re-create or interpret a variety of world musics through their own vision. The majority of songs come from 1968-1971 -- manna from heaven for those interested in the band's roots. Many cuts show off the varying abilities of the players. Jaki Leibezeit plays wind instruments on five separate cuts, while Irmin Schmidt is credited with "schizophone" on the Mooney-sung funk-soul of "The Empress and the Ukraine King." Though a few tracks are seemingly here to fill space, a lot of what's present easily stands up on its own, and to the band's legend as well. The opening cut, "Gomorrha," recorded after Suzuki's departure, is quite fine, an understated but still epic piece with lovely keyboards from Schmidt and intoxicating guitar from Michael Karoli. On the Suzuki-era cut "I'm Too Leise," Leibezeit's medieval flutes and light percussion add to a half-folk/half-something-else vibe. Mooney gets an interesting moment of glory with "Mother Upduff," a spoken word tale of tourists in Europe that turns increasingly strange after the encounter with the octopus. ~ Ned Raggett, Rovi

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